Poverty Bay development manager Dwayne Russell said the Poverty Bay under-18 girls and u15 girls “did their coaches and the district proud’ at a sevens tournament in Marton.
“Both teams were up against bigger unions winning four of their five games,” said Russell.
“It was a round-robin tournament with no final games and the the girls were a credit to their coaches and the union.
Under-15 coach and Bay Heartland midfielder sevens stalwart, TK Moeke said the opportunity to coach the team was a blessing.
“Watching them develop over the past weeks at training and how they implemented all their skill learned in the games was awesome to watch. he said.
“It amazes me how these young girls can be so dedicated to sevens rugby., training 4-to-5 days a week and managing their school work just goes to show the hard work pays off.
“A lot of our girls made a big impression on New Zealand sevens selector Chad Tuoro.”
Russell said “all the girls stood out as they played as a team but Jody Walters, Fern Jones, Maddison Reid, Lucy Coulston, Kohaea Waitoa-Mill and Amelia Pasikala also 13 years old deserve special mention”.
“TK’s daughter Kaden, at 12 another one of the youngest players at the tournament, kicked superbly while Taitana Collier, Te Awhina Chase, Georgia Teneti, Lotu Kavai and Shaniqua Casey are players to watch in the future,” Russell said.
Bay u18 coaches Trish Hina and Amoe Tarsau were “more than happy” with their team’s performances.
“Due to injury we had only seven girls but Manaia Hutana and Lucy Coulston stepped up from the U15s to help out,” Tarsau said.
“The girls took some time to warm up before we got to watch some real good sevens rugby being played.
“It was an awesome team effort with all girls shining throughout the tournament.
“The fitness level of the girls was excellent and this tournament was a great test to see how much they had progressed from their first tournament in Taupo, Tarsau said”.
Russell said “it was amazing to see the girls get through a tonne of work without the luxury of subs”.
“After a couple of injuries early on they toughed it out and made the most of their opportunities and showed resilience and belief in each other.
“Renee Holmes was outstanding. Her work rate and skill level was of a high standard.
“Siuleti Halafihi was a power of strength and overcame an ankle injury in the first game to show some resilience and anchor the attack and she was also determined at ruck time.
“Manaia (Hutana) showed a lot of promise with some scintillating touches and finishing on the end of some good team work.
Holmes, Halafihi and Hutana were identified for the NZ talent program run by Tuoro.
“The girls would tell you they had tremendous support from their teammates — Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Anatea Taitauha, Maia Rickard, Azalleyah Maaka, Honey Mokomoko and Lucy Coulston, Russell said.
“Maia, Azalleyah and Kaipo were outstanding and unlucky not to be included in the programme.
“However, this is just a start of their young careers and shows how capable they are.
“With a little improvement technically, physically and mindset, they will soon be pushing their claims.
“I believe we have anywhere up to four future Olympian sevens players in this group.”
“They just have to keep being involved, training hard and play in competitions more often to becoming more consistent players.
“These ethics have been led by their coaches Tk Moeke & Donny Mill, Trish Hina and Amoe Tarsau and we are very lucky to have such quality coaches here.
“We now look forward to the NZ Condor Sevens Nationals in Auckland where the majority of the girls will be playing for Lytton or Gisborne Girls’ High on December 2-4 and our Poverty Bay Womens 7s team competing in Levin at the Regionals.”